Complete joy goes beyond pleasure and enables a surplus of meaning

Imagine a basketball player running drills, performing “planting rice”, vomitting in between, then lifting weights, doing a hundred push-ups, then shooting a thousand shots. At that moment, it can feel like the world is ending. All that blood, sweat, and tears, for a mere game?

Yet, the catharsis of winning a meaningful game transforms those suffering into deeper meaning. In this sense, joy and suffering are not incompatible; they are even synergistic, almost two sides of the same coin. A state of flow and total engagement demands a balance of skills and challenge; fighting both boredom and anxiety.

Maybe suffering is indeed a part of life, similar to pain. In itself, it is not necessarily bad; suffering and pain can be indicators of growth or a signal that somewhere in our body, mind, or heart, we need healing.

Thus, for a discerning person, the question is not how to eliminate pain and suffering altogether, but rather, how to exercise one’s agency to choose a cause worth suffering for. Maybe it’s family. Friends. Loved ones. Or country even.

Perhaps the journey towards flourishing and complete joy, like most things in life, is all about balance – pain and pleasure, skills and challenge, boredom and anxiety.


John 15:9-11. So that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.

[DAILY GOSPEL INSIGHTS AND REFLECTION FOR MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION 139: MAY 19, 2022]

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